I Was In a Car Accident While Traveling – What Should I Do?

You’re driving along on your business trip or a long-awaited family vacation when suddenly, another car rear-ends you at a stop light. Or maybe you hit a patch of ice and hydroplane into the median. Regardless of how it happens, getting into a car accident is always stressful – especially if it happens while you’re traveling.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. You need to do some things to ensure you and your business are protected. Here’s a quick overview of what you must do if you get into a car accident while traveling for business or pleasure. Whether you have full coverage auto insurance or choose to keep a lower coverage liability, insurance will save your wallet and your trip. If you’re renting a car, part of the costs typically accounts for full coverage insurance.

Check for Injuries and Call for Medical Help if Necessary

First and foremost, you need to check for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. Even if no one appears injured, it’s still a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident.

Adrenaline can mask pain, and your soft tissue and ligaments can bruise after the fact. Without further consultation, you may not realize you’re injured until hours or even days after impact. Plus, some injuries, such as concussions, whiplash, pinched nerves, and spinal issues, may not show obvious symptoms immediately.

Move Your Vehicle Out of Traffic to Avoid Impeading the Flow Further – But Don’t Leave the Scene!

Once you’ve called for medical help if it’s safe to do so, move your vehicle out of the way of traffic. However, don’t leave the scene of the accident! Traffic in places like Los Angeles, New York, Austin, and Seattle can be daunting, but cars remaining in the lanes while the accident is being handled can cause more collisions or injuries.

Depending on where the accident happened, you may be required by law to stay put until the police arrive. Further, if injuries warrant emergency medical attention, wait until first responders arrive to direct traffic. Never move someone who has a back or neck injury or is unconscious and unable to communicate their injuries.

Gather Information from the Other Driver

While waiting for help to arrive, exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident. You should get their name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information. You should also get the name and contact information of any witnesses to the accident (if possible).

You may want to put together an emergency packet that includes this information in a short card form that you can hand over to the other driver. After a wreck, you’ll likely be very shaken, and your adrenaline will be in overdrive. When traveling, you’ll run into language barriers, often making this process confusing and overwhelming.

Take Pictures – Lots of Them

Since your insurance company won’t be able to recreate the exact circumstances of your situation, having photos to present to them in your claim can help them assess fault and account for some of the damages to your car and the others involved. Use your phone to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles involved in the accident (yours and the other driver’s) and any visible injuries you or your passengers have sustained.

If there are skid marks on the road or other property damage (like a broken fence), take pictures. Other photos that may be useful include the cross streets, the position of your car on the road after the impact, damaged parts that fell off, impact points, and any leaking fluids under either vehicle.

Call Your Insurance Company

After the police have left and everyone involved in the accident has seen a doctor (if necessary), call your insurance company to report the incident and start the claims process. In most cases, your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage and determine how much they will pay for repairs (less your deductible). Depending on your policy and state laws, they may also cover medical expenses related to injuries sustained in the accident up to a specific limit.

Your Agent is a Team Member – They’re Here to Help

It’s always stressful to get into an accident – but it can be incredibly daunting if it happens while traveling. High-stress situations rarely go well when you’re on your home turf, and it can seem even worse when you’re on unfamiliar ground. However, by taking some deep breaths and following these simple steps, you can ensure that you and your investments are protected in case of an accident while on the road.

If you have any questions through this process, don’t hesitate to contact your insurance agent for help. They are here to help you make this process as smooth as it can be, all things considered, and help you get back on the road.

Huynh Nguyen

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